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Stubborn client insists on no Sex
Thread poster: N.M. Eklund

N.M. Eklund  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:38
Member (2005)
French to English
+ ...
Apr 3, 2009

First our draft reply:

Mr Machin,
We recognize that you seem to have a serious problem with Sex.
We are perfectly prepared to admit that we have a large difficulty acknowledging Gender.
If, despite our recommendations, you still do not prefer sex, then we will have to modify for Gender.
Sincerely,



Now the back story:
We're translating bank application screens and the developer has some crazy ideas on how the fields should be translated (he's not anglophone).
We've spent the past couple of weeks on the edge of laughing ridiculously and raging in indignation at his uninformed requests.

Now it's Friday and we're on the home stretch, so silliness is breaking through the tension. This particular point of contention concerned the Client information screen and our translation of
'Sexe : H/F'
as
'Sex: M/F'
which of course he wants to change to
'Gender: M/F'

Well, we all know the client is the boss, so if he insists, there's nothing we can do.
(No, we didn't send the email, but we're pretty much ruined for serious work for the rest of the day!)



Have you ever had a client who insisted on a RIDICULOUS translation?


Afterthought - I just realized we could have added at the end of the email:
We're not strictly anti-Gender, we just like Sex better!


[Edited at 2009-04-03 12:04 GMT]


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Susanna Garcia  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:38
Italian to English
+ ...
Sex Apr 3, 2009

'Sex: M/F'
[/quote]

=================================================

Perhaps he wants to avoid replies like
'Sex: only on a Sunday morning

!!!

Suzi


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Maria Castro  Identity Verified
Portugal
Member (2008)
English to Portuguese
+ ...

MODERATOR
what's wrong with "gender"? Apr 3, 2009

Hi,
I don't see the point. Maybe the client wants to use a more euphemistic word.
gender: tech or euph the division into male or female; sex. eg: gender differentiation within a species (Longman Dict of language and culture)

[Editado em 2009-04-03 10:14 GMT]


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 17:38
Italian to English
What about neuters? Apr 3, 2009

N.M. Eklund wrote:

'Sexe : H/F'
as
'Sex: M/F'
which of course he wants to change to
'Gender: M/F'



Shouldn't that be:

Gender: M/F/N

in case a neuter wants to open an account?

Giles


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Tony M  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:38
Member
French to English
+ ...
That's the whole (cultural) point Apr 3, 2009

Maria Castro wrote:
I don't see the point.


But that is just the point Maria — although 'gender' may be a suitable word to use in a technical or even more formal context, in this relatively everyday context, 'sex' is the word you'd expect to find on any equivalent EN document. This is where translation becomes more than just words and dictionaries, but involves an intimate knowledge of cultural habits and usage in the target language.

In exactly the reverse situation, I was once pulled up for innocently filling in such a form with 'mâle' (just as one would in England), where I was told in FR I needed to put 'masculin'.


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Stephen Rifkind  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 18:38
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
Hebrew distinction Apr 3, 2009

In Hebrew, on a standard form, the adjective form for male and female is Zachar / Nekeva. However, if an MC is called for for only the girls to sing, he says "banot", meaning "girls", not "nekevot". The latter as a noun is reserved for female non-human animals, as in "the male was looking for females to mate with"

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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 17:38
Member (2009)
English to Croatian
+ ...
Semantically different Apr 3, 2009

Maria Castro wrote:

Hi,
I don't see the point. Maybe the client wants to use a more euphemistic word.
gender: tech or euph the division into male or female; sex. eg: gender differentiation within a species (Longman Dict of language and culture)

[Editado em 2009-04-03 10:14 GMT]


If you wanna trust lexical decomposition, I will make one:

gender :

+ grammatical ( in grammar)
+ inanimate
+ m/f/n

sex :

+ animate
+ not used in grammar
+ m/f

Obviously, semantic features for these two nouns differ, and they will be used in different context and for different purpose. Using " gender" in an application form would be equal to using " sex" in a grammar context, e.g. What's the sex of this noun / pronoun ?

To Ms Eklund:

Yes, I did have silly requests. I just comply with them ( the client is always right), but I always make it clear to the client what kind of consequences that translation will produce.


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Chantal Kamgne  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 11:38
Member (2006)
English to French
Giles Apr 3, 2009

Giles Watson wrote:

Shouldn't that be:

Gender: M/F/N

in case a neuter wants to open an account?

Giles




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Maria Castro  Identity Verified
Portugal
Member (2008)
English to Portuguese
+ ...

MODERATOR
gender Vs sex Apr 3, 2009

Yes, there is a difference. In Portuguese I would also use 'sexo' instead of 'género'.
But is it totally wrong, absurd using 'gender' in application forms?

Here are two examples:

www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/New%20Visa%20Application%20Form.pdf/Files/New%20Visa%20Application%20Form.pdf


www.circle-era.net/fileadmin/upload/images/calls/CIRCLE_MED_Common_Application_Form.doc

As I said in my previous post, maybe the client doesn't want to use 'sex' (but a less explicit word) for reasons we do not know. Maybe Ms Eklund should ask the client his/her reasons.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 14:38
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Perhaps the answer is found in New Zealand Apr 3, 2009

Once I had to translate a birth certificate from New Zealand, written in English and Maori. Of course I only learned the language was named Maori afterwards.

Nevertheless the field label for "Sex"in English had three words in Maori. Maybe they don't have a noun for it, so on the certificate they have to explain how it's done.

How would this client like it?


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sarandor  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:38
English to Russian
+ ...
Gender equality or sex equality? Apr 3, 2009

Is one better than the other?

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Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:38
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
How to convince the client? Apr 3, 2009

Of course, the final word is the client's. Having a final word in a language that you do not master perfectly is quite dangerous.

The client seems to fear that the word "sex" would be ambiguous. To show that these fears are unfounded, I would try to find references showing that the word "sex" is used by other, reputable, banks, both in the US and the UK. For example:
http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/financialsanctions/commissionreg070427.pdf
http://www.bankofamerica.com/help/equalhousing.cfm
(Tip: write sex site:bankofengland.co.uk into Google, and then replace bankofengland.co.uk by the domain name of other banks.)
Since the most important competitors are likely to be other French banks, it would be great if you could show that "sex" appears in this context on their websites.

You may also point out that they don't have any problem using the French word, "sexe", which has exactly the same double meaning -- plus a third one, meaning genitals. They very rightly feel that using this word is fine -- it really does not lend itself to ambiguity within the particular context, even though it is possible to make fun of it. Ask them why they preferred to use this word to any other one -- and then ask them why they think these arguments do not work for English.

Assure them that the possible damage by being misunderstood is very little -- since the reader has to misinterpret a meaning that is completely clear in the context --, whereas the possible damage of publishing a text that reads as a prude translation is much higher.

As a last resort, just show them a reputable dictionary, e.g., Robert-Collins, which does not list "gender" as a possible English equivalent.

Attila


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 17:38
Member (2009)
English to Croatian
+ ...
Collocations Apr 3, 2009

Galia Williams wrote:

Is one better than the other?


Collocations are not better, worse or best, they are just set phrases that are meant to be used fixed in a particular context in order to make sense.


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:38
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Modishness Apr 3, 2009

The use of "gender" on forms, etc. instead of "sex", is regrettably modish and almost universally adopted now in the UK, although it is, of course, grammatically wrong, except in relation to grammar. It is all part of the mealy-mouthed Blairification of our beloved language along with all the "political correctness" now essential if one wishes to advance up that slippery ladder.
I've had this argument many times with officialdom, all to no avail. They won't be budged.
I'd try to stick to "sex", but if the client insists, then it has to be admitted that "gender" will be found all too frequently in the context concerned and the client will thus be able to justify his preference.
Best wishes,
Jenny


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Buzzy
Local time: 17:38
French to English
At least you're getting some fun out of the debate! Apr 3, 2009

Thanks for this thread, it made me laugh (and I particularly like Jenny's advice to "try to stick to sex"), especially as I'm currently in the process of checking the proofs of a translated report that has just been read over by a Big Boss in the client company... who is of course a French speaker... He hasn't quite added an "s" to "information" but some of his corrections aren't far off that level and my heart is sinking at the thought of the negotiations/arguments ahead.
Yes in the end it's his document, but I'm so fed up of having to write English that suits non-anglophone sensitivities as opposed to real English. I can see I'm going to have a similar problem to yours with the word "evolutions" (he doesn't want "changes")...
Enjoy the fun, and remember you are not alone!


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